UK psychiatric group cites social media dangers to the young

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists is urging that mammoth tech companies like Facebook and Twitter turn over research about possible dangers caused to young people by excessive social media use.

The group also calls for higher rates of taxation on these companies, with some of the revenue to be used to fund more research into how some young people are being put at risk of self-harm, suicide and other severe mental health issues.

Dr. Bernadka Dubicka, leader of the group’s faculty on adolescence, said Friday that she has seen in her practice an increase in self-harm among young people “as a result of their social media use and online discussions.”

She said it will be impossible for researchers to understand the risks and benefits of social media use unless the major companies share their research data and help fund more inquiries.

The group of psychiatrists wants big tech companies taxed on their international turnover, with some of the money earmarked for mental health research. It said a proposed 2% tax on UK revenues is insufficient.

The father of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old girl who ended her life in 2017 in a case that attracted wide attention, said he supports the proposals. Ian Russell said there is an “urgent need” for action to protect young people.

He said he had “no doubt that social medial helped kill my daughter,” after finding “bleak depressive material, graphic self-harm content and suicide-encouraging memes” in her computer.